Ages and Stages

"The first duty of an education is to stir up life, but leave it free to develop."-Maria Montessori

     Maria Montessori believed that children followed a path of development from infant to adulthood.  Through observation of children she developed the four planes of development that displayed changes in physical, spiritual, and social aspects of the child.  According to The Secret of Childhood, She recognized that each period of development came with its own set of characteristics and needs. She also recognized that one could only experience complete development and fulfilment of potential if the needs of each period were fully met, before moving on to the next phase.


  • The first and third planes are times of great creativity, construction and transformation of the human.
  • The second and fourth planes are whole periods of consolidation of the preceding periods. It is a time when the child more firmly establishes, uses and enlarges upon the skills they have learned. The fourth is also when the child is in training for and working on identifying his life work as well as becoming a part of society. We have all of our teeth, by age twenty- four.

Age 0-6 years: The First Plane of Development

-sensitive period for development of language

-sensitive period for physical order

-prefers to work alone

-the child develops his psyche and makes great physical changes.

Age 6-12 years: The Second Plane of Development

-sensitive period for social order and relationships

-sensitive to moral justice and fairness

-imagination and reasoning skills develop

-prefers to work in groups

-Stage of consolidation and relative stability. It is a time of great energy. It is generally a hard and strong period.
-Exploration out into the nature and society can begin. It is a time of loosing teeth. At nine some children loose their molars. New teeth allow the child to eat bigger food. The power to abstract and the intellect grows tremendously.

Age 12-18 years: The Third Plane of Development

-sensitive period for exploring the world on her own

-needs to experiment

-extreme social sentiment

-strong sense of independence from adults

-Period of intense physical and psychic change. During this period the construction of the individual in relation to society occurs.

-This is when the youth accomplishes the transformation into the adult member of the species and creates a social self who will assume the role of contributor to society itself.

Age 18-24 years: The Fourth Plane of Development

-knows how to make choices and choose appropriate actions for oneself

-strives for peace and justice

-strives to achieve her ideals

Information By Rachel Wallace Reid, Certified Montessori Teacher and Parent Educator

For more information about the Montessori Method, check out the following links: